Waist management in Hindi film songs is a science unto itself

The female ‘kamar’ has an array of unpredictable and mostly inexplicable effects on men in the movies.

The song Twist Kamariya from Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Bareilly ki Barfi features a casually confident Kriti Sanon acceding to the demands of the lyrics by thrusting her waist with great gusto. Her lithe midriff is promptly declared to be worth “sau lakh”, which is approximately equivalent to the great metaphorical significance that Hindi film songs normally bestow on that seemingly innocuous body part.

If any of Hindi cinema’s musical odes are to be believed, female midriffs, particularly the slim ones, have the potential to magically catalyse an unpredictable and mostly inexplicable effects. Female waists cause male characters to malfunction in several ways, providing further proof (if it was needed) that in Hindi cinema, heros and lechers are often interchangeable species.

For instance, in Teri Kamar Ko from Great Grand Masti (2016), the midriff causes three men to whistle involuntarily. Since Sonakshi Sinha’s waist attracts an unsolicited pinch in Rowdy Rathore (2012), it is hardly surprising that Akshay Kumar eventually declares that he lost his heart to her chikni kamar (beautiful waist) in Dhadang Dhadang.

Twist Kamariya, Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017).

In Teri Patli Kamar Mein Hai Jaadoo from Loafer (1996) the hero freely harasses the heroine without fear of retribution even as he believes her body to be invested with enough magical capabilities to make Gandalf seem inept.

In Kar Gayi Chull from Kapoor and Sons (2016), the male character marvels at the potency of the female waist with marginally greater scientific acumen. He declares that the physics of the woman’s swinging waist is too arcane for his capabilities with the lines “daaye, baaye kaise kamar tu juhaalye, physics samajh nahi aaye”.

Gyrating waists don’t just confuse individual men. They also have the power to jolt cities and states. Consider Dilwaalon Ke Dil Ka Karaar from Shool (1999) where Shilpa Shetty’s waist helpfully claims full responsibility for the loot of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, or I Shake My Kamariya from Mumbai Can Dance Saala (2015), in which the aforementioned waist jolts Mumbai and, strangely enough, London.

Chikni Chameli’s waist from Agneepath (2012) can slay thousands with a single gyration. By the time Dabanng 2 (2012) rolled around, however, the metaphor had gotten old. In Fevicol Se, the hero acknowledges that although the capacity of the woman’s waist to move cities is an “old story”, he is enamored of her nonetheless.

Chikni Chameli, Agneepath (2012).

Such is the flexibility of the female waist, that it has been compared to a range of sundry objects and ideas, from pendulums (Move Your Lakk from Noor, 2017) to rainbows (Jhanak Jhanak Tori Baaje from Mere Huzoor, 1968), and warning systems (Kamariya Lachke Re, Babu Zara Bachke Re from Mela, (2000).

The female midriff is also a veritable repository of complex and dubious emotions, including the reigning favourite – nationalism. In Imported Kamariya from Shanghai (2012), a foreigner rhapsodises about how her well-travelled waist received a rousing welcome in India. Desi Girl from Dostana (2008) features a couple of men emphatically praising an Indian woman’s allure by invoking her waist with the lines “Pade kamar pe jo nazar, saare sapnon mein rang bhar jaaye”.

Although waists have obviously sexual connotations, they have been exempted from the tremendous sexualisation that surrounds breasts. Consequently, they offer the Goldilocks blend for songs that want to be raunchy without attracting much censure.

The peculiar brand of show and tell that is unique to Hindi film songs means that the waists that male and female characters sing about are almost always on glaring display. Since female midriffs are bare in the songs that reference their allure, only needs to trace the mention of the waist in Hindi film songs to see how the Indian female body ideal has evolved over time. Although a patli kamar (slim waist) has always been desirable, the definition of thinness has changed drastically.

Imported Kamariya, Shanghai (20120.

In Haye Haye Dukhi Jaaye from Pyar Ka Rishta (1973), for instance, an amply endowed Mumtaz gyrates with abandon even as she blithely declares that her aching waist prevents her from dancing. When a couple of women sing about their waists in Patli Kamar Lambe Baal from Loha (1987), their waists are hardly size zero material.

On the other hand, in more recent songs like Chamma Chamma from China Gate (1998), and Lazy Lamhe from Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (2008), the waists in question are svelte enough to seem entirely too unreal. In Character Dheela from Ready (2011) Salman Khan provides a curious kind of mathematical formula: amount of enjoyment gained from a female midriff is inversely proportional to its circumference: “kamar patli ho jitni bhi, mazza utna nasheela hai”.

As the waists have shrunk in girth, the demands being made of them have increased. In Tirchi Nazar Hai Patli Kamar Hai from Barsaat (1949) and Kamar Patli Nazar Bijli from Kahin Din Kahin Raat (1968) men are content to look at women’s midriffs and sing paeans to their bodies. In Dance Basanti from Ungli (2014), on the other hand, Emraan Hashmi asks the titular Basanti to gyrate her waist to a hit song so that his heart can transform from pauper to prince.

Baadshah asks the woman to move her waist from night to morning in Move Your Lakk. In The Goggle Song from Mubarakan (2017) men cavalierly advise women to not think too much and just move their waists instead.

Tirchi Nazar Hai Patli Kamar Hai, Barsaat (1949).

Although men and women in Hindi films sing about female waists with equal enthusiasm, the male waist escapes a similar fate. Men may display their ripped torsos with gleeful abandon, but they do not often sing about their own waists. Shake it like Shammi from Hasee Toh Phasee (2014), in which an errant waist won’t obey the dictums of its male owner (“lakh mein rokun, maane na kamariya nikammi”) is a rare exception.

The idea of a male waist even being discussed in terms of thinness or beauty seems laughably far-fetched. In Patli Kamar Nazuk Umar from Lootera (1965), for instance, Dara Singh is in drag, and attempting to woo a gang of sailors when he refers to his slim waist. The macho hero’s assertion is meant to be funny, because unlike the waist of a woman, his midriff is far from being thin, and free from the expectation of being delicate.

Shake it like Shammi, Hasee Toh Phasee (2014).
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.